The ten ASEAN governments and the People’s Republic of China endorsed a plan aiming at eliminating or drastically reducing the problems of illicit drug production, trafficking and abuse in the region by the year 2015. This decision has been supported by more than 30 governments and 15 International Organizations in a political declaration adopted by delegates to an International Congress held at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok, which concluded today.
The International Congress entitled “In Pursuit of a Drug-Free ASEAN 2015 Sharing the Vision, Leading the Change” had been jointly convened by Royal Thai Government, ASEAN and the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP). The Congress had been the result of rising concern of the ASEAN leaders about the drug problems of the region which had aggravated in recent years due to the rapid spread of newly emerging drugs including amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS).
In endorsing the Plan of Action, entitled “ACCORD ASEAN and China Cooperative Operations in Response to Dangerous Drugs,” the ASEAN Governments and China have agreed to strengthen coordination of their efforts in four major areas of activity:
- to promote public awareness of the dangers of drugs and adequate responses within their societies;
- to address drug abuse and related HIV problems among injecting drug users through improved data collection, preventive and treatment programmes and the sharing of information;
- to attack illicit production and trafficking through the strengthening of law enforcement efforts and international cooperation and the development of up-to-date legislation and other control measures; and
- to eliminate illicit drug crops through alternative development programmes and related community participation.
Key elements of the Plan of Action are intended to give China and the ASEAN states as well as other governments and organisations supporting the exercise full “ownership” of the process in pursuit of a Drug-Free ASEAN. These include target dates for specific actions and the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to measure the progress of all drug control activities in the region.
During a statement at the International Congress, UN Under-Secretary-General and ODCCP Executive Director Pino Arlacchi lauded the efforts to develop a Drug-Free ASEAN and pledged the full cooperation and support of his organization. International support will be crucial for the success of the Action Plan. It is, therefore, particularly significant that, in the Political Declaration, the governments participating in the International Congress committed themselves to consider contributing financial support through the existing mechanisms of grants to the United Nations and ASEAN which would report every year on the funds invested in the execution of the plan.